It was just over a year ago when Chris Wernig and his wife, Kim, got the call that every parent dreads.
Their sons – Dylan, 18, and Justin, 17 – were in a car accident on their way home from a Highland High School basketball game in Gloucester Township.
Dylan sustained minor injuries, but Justin suffered a broken neck, collarbone and tailbone, and was rushed to Cooper, where he received emergency treatment and was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper.
“The ER staff was great,” said Chris, who is a Cherry Hill police officer and vice president of the Cherry Hill Policemen’s Benevolent Association (PBA). “Everyone at Cooper – they are exceptional people.”
Chris and Kim also have two daughters – Casey, 16, and Riley, 2. To keep Riley occupied during visits to the hospital, Chris took her down the hall to the Johnny M. Playroom, where she could play games, read books and play with toys.
“I thought it was really, really cool that they had this whole playroom there,” Chris said.
But the playroom needed something more. iPads.
That’s where the Cherry Hill PBA stepped in, deciding to use the money raised from its inaugural golf tournament to purchase iPads for the playroom.
Their goal was to raise enough money for five iPads. They were so successful that they doubled the donation to 10.
“Everybody in the union stepped up in a huge way,” said Chris. “We sold out our first golf tournament and everybody was behind the cause.”
Cooper Child Life Manager Brittany Spaeth, MS, CCLS, said the iPads are a welcome addition.
“Before the PBA donated these iPads, we had just a few and there was a waiting list to use them,” said Spaeth. “We are so grateful for the generosity of the Wernig family and the Cherry Hill PBA and for their kindness toward our pediatric patients.”
Chris said his family is forever grateful to doctors, nurses and medical staff at Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper, the only state-designated acute care children’s hospital in South Jersey, and that Justin has made a terrific recovery.
“He’s doing fantastic,” said Chris. “And I completely credit Cooper.”